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Construction Accounting
6 min read

Best Construction Accounting Software for Emerging Contractors [2024]

Chris Lee
Published May 6, 2024

Building a construction company can be hard, but it's much harder if you're using generic accounting software built for other industries. Because accounting is the core of good business, you need accounting software that can support you and your company’s unique operations.

To help you choose the one that fits your business best, we’ve narrowed down the top applications for construction accounting software below.

Best Construction Accounting Software Solutions

While there are a lot of options out there on the market, these are the most popular for construction contractors. 

1. CrewCost

crewcost construction accounting software job center in browser

While most accounting software only has a few helpful features for contractors, CrewCost’s platform is purpose-built for emerging construction businesses. Along with all the bells and whistles you would expect from a typical accounting application, it’s project-centric. This gives you granular visibility into how your jobs are performing and rolls that up to how they impact your overall profitability and cash flow. By combining construction accounting, job costing, and time tracking into one application, CrewCost brings everything you need to monitor and manage the financial health of your construction business under one roof.

CrewCost is 100% cloud-based and allows you to get a real-time view of your data, wherever you are. And with that kind of financial information always at your fingertips, you can stay on top of profit margins, so every decision becomes an opportunity.

What Makes CrewCost Unique: Along with construction-specific functionality like change order management and retainage tracking, CrewCost includes tools for job costing, progress billing and time tracking that all tie back to your accounting system.

Pricing: After a 30-day free trial, CrewCost starts at $399/month for its Builder’s Essentials plan.

Pros

  • Built specifically to meet the needs of emerging contractors in the construction industry.
  • Includes all the tools needed to solve for retainage, progress billing, job costing, showing actuals vs. estimates, and all the other functions that make construction accounting unique.
  • 100% cloud-based, so you can access your data from anywhere.
  • Construction-specific financial reporting.
  • Integrated time tracking and mobile app so you can automate timecard entries and budgeting.

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer payroll (yet 😏).
  • Costs more than QuickBooks (but will likely replace more than just QuickBooks in your tech stack)

2. Sage300

sage300 dashboard

Sage offers accounting solutions that help you track financial data across multiple jobs. It’s been the go-to accounting software for contractors for a long time, but as technology has progressed, more contractors are opting for more affordable accounting tools to grow their businesses. 

What Makes Sage Unique: Sage’s accounting platform is the “first and only preferred financial management solution” endorsed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

Pricing: Sage pricing plans vary based on the modules your business chooses to include. 

Pros

  • Is built for construction and has features that support things like retainage, progress billing, etc.
  • Supports many third-party integrations
  • Very robust set of features that can meet the needs of multiple teams

Cons

  • Takes a lot of time and money to set up for your business.
  • Introduces a large learning curve for new users.
  • Outdated interface.
  • Export options for data are limited.
  • Total cost to purchase, implement, and maintain can be burdensome for many contractors.
  • On-premise and requires a VPN and Remote Desktop connection to connect from the field.
  • Some users complain about the number of things that require a paid add-on to achieve.

3. Foundation

foundation software dashboard

Foundation has been a middle-of-the-road ERP option for contractors looking for help with time, cash, and material tracking. For companies looking for extra customizability, Foundation allows users to build a tailored solution depending on their specific needs and goals. 

If you’re looking for something that you can plug and play right out of the box though, this might not be the solution for you. Before you can get up and running, you’ll need to spend time going through the software’s lengthy onboarding.

What Makes Foundation Unique: Foundation offers over a dozen construction and business-related integrations users can use to customize their software.

Pricing: Foundation offers custom quotes and does not list its pricing.

Pros

  • Built for construction and includes retainage tracking, job costing, and progressive invoicing.
  • Includes modules for time tracking and service management.
  • Enables WIP and other construction-specific reporting.
  • Can be cheaper than other construction-specific software like Sage and ComputerEase

Cons

  • No native web application (you have to use a separate app).
  • Outdated and complicated user interface.
  • Implementation can be cumbersome and time-consuming.
  • Many users report that the interface is clunky and hard to navigate.
  • Relatively expensive for an older technology stack that's going away i.e. it’s on-premise software.
  • Slow to add new features or improvement updates.

4. ComputerEase

computerease dashboard

Deltek’s ComputerEase construction accounting software provides flexible options for job costing, WIP reporting, managing payroll, and more. With your most important data centralized in one dashboard, you can quickly get the information you need at a glance, instead of spending time wading through multiple spreadsheets. However, if you’re looking for a sleek, modern user interface, you’ll be disappointed. While ComputerEase has many positive reviews, its design is very outdated and potentially hard to navigate on newer systems.

What Makes ComputerEase Unique: For a small fee, ComputerEase will create custom reports that can be added to your software. 

Pricing: ComputerEase offers custom quotes and does not list its pricing.

Pros

  • Built for construction and includes retainage tracking, job costing, and progressive invoicing.
  • Includes modules for time tracking and service management.
  • WIP and other construction-specific reporting. 

Cons

  • Lacks meaningful reporting and analytics.
  • Requires training to understand how the software works.
  • Doesn't have a native web application.
  • Outdated and complicated user interface.
  • On-premise software.
  • Slow to innovate.

5. QuickBooks

quickbooks dashboard

Popular among many small businesses, QuickBooks offers a no-frills way to manage invoices, receive payments, and track cash flow. And while it’s not specifically a construction accounting software, most contractors under 10M use QuickBooks to manage their key accounting functions. 

⚠️ Note: QuickBooks is currently in the process of removing Quickbooks Desktop from its offerings. Though QuickBooks Online has some limited features for construction, the desktop version was what contractors found most useful.

What Makes QuickBooks Unique: For an extra $50/month, you can access live bookkeeping assistance.

Pricing: After a 30-day free trial, Quickbooks Online Advanced begins at $200/month.

Pros

  • QuickBooks does a really good job of making its platform easy to use and accessible for users who haven’t spent their careers in accounting.
  • Their base cost is affordable for most small contractors.
  • They execute core accounting functions very well.
  • Integrates with many project management tools like Procore, though the ease and effectiveness of integration varies.

Cons

  • They aren’t construction-specific, so many of the functions contractors need to manage like retainage, progressive billing, and job costing are either not available or aren’t fleshed out enough.
  • While QuickBooks does a great job of managing your core accounting, it requires extra integrations and spreadsheets to completely manage your financials, which adds cost. 

Why You Need Construction Accounting Software

Construction isn’t like other industries. While we still follow general accounting principles, several things make our trade unique. From retainage and change orders to progress billings, there are simply too many things that generic accounting systems and spreadsheets can’t keep up with. 

You can’t play the guessing game in construction. If you want to move on from guesstimates and blind hope that you’ll stay out of the red, you need an accounting software specifically built for construction. 

What to Consider When Evaluating Construction Accounting Software

Every construction software is made with different business goals in mind. Before you jump in head-first, take the time to outline your company’s specific wants, needs, and overall accounting goals. This will help guide you to the right solution. 

That being said, there are a few things you should keep an eye out for as you figure out the right solution for your company. 

Perform key construction accounting functions: Every accounting software worth its salt should be able to handle things like your general ledger, balance sheets, accounts payable, and accounts receivable, but construction companies have several accounting needs that are specific to the industry. Make sure your software can solve for retainage, progress billing, change orders, etc. If they don’t, you’ll need an integration that can manage those things for you, or a way to do it manually. 

Ability to track finances at the project and company level: Consider the amount of visibility you want to have into your construction projects. Not every software will allow you to easily track budgets by project and then roll that up into how it will affect your overall company financials. Bonus points if it uses this data to forecast revenue and costs.

Cloud-based vs. on-premise: Most accounting software for construction firms is still on-prem software. That means your company is responsible for housing and maintaining the servers and data on them. It also means that it can be difficult to access that data from anywhere off-premise. Cloud-based software can be accessed from anywhere and doesn’t require you to manage upkeep. 

The cost of your full tech stack: There are a lot of moving parts in running a construction company, so you’re bound to need multiple pieces of software to manage everything. However, the accounting software you choose will determine how many extra pieces of software you need to make everything work. Consider how many functions the software you’re evaluating will replace, how many manual actions it automates, and how that will impact the overall cost of your entire stack. 

Last Thoughts

Time and time again, we see contractors doing quality work but leaving their financial management as an end-of-year task that hopefully works out. You can have great skills and an even better reputation, but without strong accounting workflows in place, you’ll end up missing out on extra profit and ultimately putting your business at risk.

With the right construction accounting software, you can streamline your processes and save yourself countless hours, all while turning reactive financial decisions into proactive ones. And in construction, that’s worth a lot.


Author
Chris Lee

Chris combines his experience in tech and construction to build products that actually help SMB contractors improve and streamline their business operations.

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